Our Identity as Beloved Children of God

After reading that Karrilee had gone to the Greatest Showman twice already, I knew that I had to go check it out. So Sunday afternoon, after church, I found myself at the movie theater; totally outside my comfort zone. (I hate going to the movies alone!) But this was a movie that called me to break outside my comfort zone.

As I sat in that theater, the songs from the movie easily crept into my heart and head. But more than anything, the story line reminded me how we are all dreamers; dreamers in search of our own dreams. This story is a beautiful celebration of the diversity of humanity. (I wrote a blog post/movie review for my friend’s blog “Connect 2 Faith.” You can read that link here!)

All of the songs are playing in my heart and head, but the one that keeps replaying over and over is the song “This is me” especially the words to the chorus. The chorus includes these words, “When the sharpest words wanna cut me down, I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out; I am brave, I am bruised; I am who I’m meant to be, this is me; Look out cause here I come; And I’m marching to the beat I drum; I’m not scared to be seen; I make no apologies, this is me.” This anthem is an anthem that I think so many of us cry out each day.

Too often, we fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others. We think we are not smart enough, not pretty enough, or not good enough. We simply think we are not enough! But the truth, my friends, is that we are all enough. God has “fearfully and wonderfully” made each and every one of us and gifted us with our own unique gifts and abilities.

The reality is that the story of PT Barnum that unfolds in this movie The Greatest Showman reminds each and every one of us that God is the ultimate showman. God is the one who calls and claims each and every one of us as God’s beloved children. I can’t help but be reminded of one of my favorite Christian artist’s Jason Gray’s song “Remind Me Who I Am.” Too often we forget who we are called to be. Yet the truth is that God made us own purpose and wants us to triumphantly declare in the words of the anthem “This is Me” from this movie.

So, my friends, if you want to celebrate all of humanity and its diversity, go see this movie. If you struggle with not being enough, go see this movie. If you are surrounded by others who think they too are the greatest showman and you feel more like Carlisle or Charity or the circus acts, go see this movie. Really just go see this movie and then share its message with the rest of the world.

For in this movie, I found myself again and again and believe you too will find yourself. It is a movie that is for all the dreamers. It is a movie that reminds us of the beauty of the world; that we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made.” It is a movie that declares over and over again that we are beloved children of God who God calls to triumphantly proclaim “This is me.”

I am linking up with these lovely ladies; Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart, and Kristin and Porch Stories. 

 

Sunday Blessings 198

(1) Workout with LZ

(2) My first journaling Bible

(3) Snapchatting with DC

(4) Getting to see some of my fave people

(5) A snow evening off from church activities.

(6) A call from JL

(7) Texting with KG

(8) Church Book Study

(9) A fun new wall calendar

(10) Messaging with AS

(11) Texting with my faves

(12) A sweet message from MH

(13) Fun mail from SS

(14) Winning a mystery hostess item.

(15) A nice gentleman helping me put air in my car tire.

(16) Catching up on This is Us and Nashville

(17) Going to the movie The Greatest Showman.

(18) A PLN after the movie

Haiti and the Call to Remember and Simplify

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “simplify.” We would love to have you join us.

January 12, 2010 began like any other day in Haiti. Little did anyone know that an earthquake would hit and change the course for many. That day is forever etched in my head and heart as my friend Renee, her (deceased) husband Ben, and Ben’s cousin Jon where in Haiti for a J-term course. Ben lost his life that day. Ben and the reality of this day along with the promise of resurrection hope remind me to simplify my life and focus on what is truly important.

My 2018 one word hygge is calling me to simply be present in the moment; to simplify my own life. It’s about being, in the words of Shauna Niequest, present rather than perfect. It’s about being content with where one is because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. It’s about not being in a hurry but slowing down.

Life can be so chaotic. Sometimes (read: most of the time) God is calling us to simplify. We forget that it’s ok to say no. We forget that life is a journey not a destination. We forget that  we don’t have to do everything. God is calling us to slow down; to live in each moment as it comes. It’s about simplifying our days.

So tomorrow, as the sun rises and we remember the Haiti earthquake, i can’t help but simplify my morning. Instead of turning on my tv and rushing off to work, I’ll dwell in my day off and let the words of Ben’s song “Mourning into Dancing” wash over me. It’s a simple way to remember Ben and all who lost their lives eight years ago as the earth shook in Haiti.

Listen along with me, friends! (Mourning into Dancing by Ben Larson)

Finding Motivation

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “motivate.” We would love to have you join us.

Move your body.
Zumba, Zumba, Zumba!
For months, I was so motivated. I loved hanging with my Curves girls. And then I moved! And all motivation seemed to be lost!

One of the hardest things about moving to a new community is finding friends to workout with. I’m one who likes having others to keep me accountable. I got a membership to our local recreation center. I did a Zumba class a few times but their classes are rather late. I also tried aquacise and loved it. I just don’t want to go alone.

I’m motivated to lose some weight and become healthier. Yesterday I downloaded a workout on YouTube and did it. I’m no professional but it’s definitely a start. I’m going to keep it up. I even bought Beachbody on Demand at a really great price. I’m hoping to try a variety of different workouts.

I’m motivated to keep trying. I’m motivated to make healthy meals. I love using Blue Apron.  A good variety of healthy choices and stuff I normally wouldn’t try.

Let’s hold each other accountable and motivate each other.

 

A Hygge Year

2017 is a year that I am ready to say goodbye too. It is a year that I hoped would be grounded in hope, but instead it was a year grounded in bittersweet hope. It started out great, but then life happened and things quickly shifted. I found myself living in one of the longest and hardest times of liminal space; clinging to what was and wondering what was to come next. For most of the late Spring and Summer months, I was weary; weary and tired.

There were so many days that I wondered what was next. And to be honest, there were so many tears shed as I tried so desperately to trust in God. But like God always does, God showed up in so many big ways. God led me to where I am today. God surrounded me with friends and family who stood by me through thick and thin. God held my hand and pulled me up out of the pit of hopelessness (or at least that’s how it felt in the early days of change) And I am so incredibly thankful.

Since late summer/early Spring, I have been able to find hope again; a hope that has become new again. New home. New community. New call in ministry. New friends. So much new. And in the midst of all of this,  I cannot help but reflect on this past year–a year of hard and also a year that grew me in so many ways. And as a new woman, I am ready to ring in a new year.

As I have prayed for my one word for 2018, my heart has been more open than ever to the calling of the Holy Spirit. So many words were shared with me, yet nothing felt right. I began to pray more. A friend shared a new word with me and as I read the definition, a calming peace fell over me. The word is “hygge” which basically translates to contentment and depending on where you read it has Danish or Finnish origins. (You can read more about hygge here!)

In the new year, I want to treasure even more every moment and every day. I want to spend time chatting with my favorites over coffee, or wine, or dinner. I want to cherish the moments of joy, but I also want to remember and experience the moments of sadness because I was blessed by them as well. I want to judge less and seek more every day to live out the words to Micah 6:8: “to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God.” I want to be content in who am I as a beloved child of God.

Contentment will not come easy. In fact, there will be days I will have to remind myself to be content. Yet contentment comes when we remember all that we have been given. We are incredibly blessed. And when we remember that, contentment or hygge comes like a warm blanket on a bitterly cold day or a cup of tea at the end of a long day. Contentment is not simply a feeling. It is in everyway how we experience life. It is realizing the ordinary moments are more extraordinary than ever.

“I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don’t mean that your help didn’t mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles.”–Philippians 4:10-14 (The Message)

Linking up with Jennifer and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart and Kristin and Porch Stories.

 

Sunday Blessings 195 & 196

(1) Trying an aquacise class at the ARC

(2) Continued blessings from my Christmas friends.

(3) A great visit with PMN

(4) Parishioners who are willing to let you use their garage while they are in Arizona for the winter. Such a gift!!

(5) Tuesday morning breakfast crew

(6) Great night at Confirmation.

(7) Laughter and joy

(8) A youth who came to me because she was afraid.

(9) Sweet treats from RG

(10) Good roads for the drive home.

(11) Texting with JT

(12) McCafe Peppermint Mocha

(13) Watching Christmas movies

(14) Warm chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven.

(15) Baking extravaganza at the farm

(16) Texting with my fave

(17) Playing Heads Up with the family

(18) Christmas Eve dinner

(19) Visiting and caroling at the nursing home

(20) A lazy day

(21) Spending time with Grandma and Grandpa.

(22) Jumper cables when your car doesn’t start on a colder than snot day.

(23) Getting home safely

(24) Hearth and Hand by Magnolia!

(25) Christmas cards from friends and family.

(26) A warm house on a bitterly cold day. Praying for those who are homeless.

(27) Texting with STM

(28) Messaging with JN

(29) Grandma’s date cookies

(30) Yummy hot tea

A Year of Bittersweet Hope

2017 rang in peacefully as I sat in my grandparents living room with my grandpa and watched the ball drop in Times Square on television. 2017 was a year that I prayed would be firmly planted in hope. Little did I know how desperately I would need to cling to that hope this year.

The first months of 2017 came in quietly. I traveled to Louisville Kentucky for the ELCA Youth Ministry Extravaganza. I spent time with my beloved family and friends. I journeyed from Ash Wednesday, through Lent to Easter. And then life shifted.

In April, I found myself having to make one of the hardest decisions of my life. After many tears, thoughtful conversations and numerous prayers, I resigned from my current job. There I was living in liminal space; living between what was and looking towards what was to come. Where would God lead me next? In those days of liminal space, I found myself trying to cling tightly to hope; hope grounded and anchored in my own faith.

My last day at my call was May 31st. In June, I found myself clinging to the promises of life-giving water that only Christ can give. The days were bittersweet and weary. I found myself hanging to hope even in the midst of this unexpected change.

Later in June, I traveled to Colorado and my favorite continuing education event in the heart of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. It was exactly what my heart and soul needed. In fact, it was hear that hope began to show itself to me. On the top of a mountain, over 10000 feet in the air,  I experienced one of the holiest moments I can remember in my life.

With Ellie Holcomb’s Red Sea Road playing in my ear, holy tears streaming down my face, hope changed everything! (You can read more about that experience here:My Little Chapel on the Side of a Mountain) Hope began to birth the promise that I would never be alone. Hope renewed my faith that all things would become new again.

And the truth, my friends, is that hope truly does change everything! Hope birthed a new amazing opportunity for me. Hope anchored my soul as I began to see a renewed vision for God’s journey for me. And it is because of hope, that I am content clinging to the hope that Christ never leaves us or forsakes us.

There were days this year when I couldn’t see hope clearer. In fact, I wondered if it was there at all. But God knows what we need and Christ knew that 2017 would be a year I needed to cling to hope. And hope found its way into my heart, soul and mind because as my friend Susan continually reminds us, “HOPE changes everything,” Indeed it does. And now I know that more than ever!

(Come back tomorrow and I’ll share my 2018 One Word. I may have made a slight nod to it in this post. Can you find it? Or have any ideas?)

 

The Word

“Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets.”–Hebrews 1:1

“Stick and stones may break my bones
But words will never hurt me.”

Oh how untrue are these words. Words do matter. Words can build up but more often than not, words break down. Words can affirm, but too often words hurt those around us. We must be more careful about how we use our words in this world.

The Word, made flesh Jesus Christ, came into the world to remind us that light not darkness, life not death has the final word. Yet too often the world is full of so much hatred and darkness. Jesus came into the world as the Word made flesh because God loves us that much.

Are we willing to use our words to build up? Or are we willing to simply shut up and listen to those around us? The truth is that we must listen to one another. We must build up and live our lives sharing the love of God in the world. Our words and actions need to embody goodness.

We may not always believe the same things. But the important thing is we must listen to one another. We must understand where each of God’s beloved children are coming from.

God continues to speak through God’s one and only Son Jesus Christ our Lord. The Word made flesh who calls us to shut up and listen to his life, ministry and death.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things came into being through Him and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”–John 1:1-5

Use your words wisely, my friends. And if you are not going to use them wisely, perhaps you need to take a breathe, close your mouth and simply listen!!!

Advent Joy and Resurrection Hope

The baby Jesus lies in the manger in the stable in Bethlehem. Mary finds herself feeding him and even changing his diapers. Cries echo throughout the darkness. Jesus in all of his humanness reminds us that God comes into the world in human form.

There are so many experiences in life that we would much rather not experience. In fact, I think so often we would much rather skip straight over Good Friday to the Resurrection joy of Easter morning. But the truth is that we cannot experience that joy without first experiencing the pain of death that comes all too often in this world.

Death that comes in so many ways. Sometimes the death is still so raw that we forget that resurrection does eventually come. In the midst of the rawness of death, we find ourselves clinging so tightly to what we have lost. Other times we think we are on the other side of grief when a post or photo or something unexpectedly brings the tears back to the surface. And other times we feel like we are drowning in our own grief.

Yet death is a part of the cycle of life. Yes,sometimes that cycle comes way too quickly and unexpectedly. I have sat and cried tears wondering if I would be able to feel happiness and joy again. I have held hands and prayed as others have waited for death to appear. But in the midst of it all, I have seen the ways that joy has emerged. Somehow through the grief, the grief has led way to laughter and joy. “Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”–Psalm 30:5

Today, I can honestly sit here with a smile upon my face knowing that resurrection does take place. I have seen and experienced it with my own eyes, ears, and heart. I have watched new life emerge in a community of faith that I left. And I have watched new life spring to life for myself and a new community of faith too. In fact, every day it seems that the seeds are springing forth new life again and again.

I am not saying that death is not painful. Because the reality is that every kind of death is immensely painful. There are days we wonder if we can get out of bed. There are other days we go through the motions. And there are yet other days when we are barely keeping our head above water.

But the truth, my dear friends, is that death does not have the final word. Life does! In the words of Clarence W. Hall, “Easter says you can put death in the grave, but it will not stay there.” In other words, God has the power to overcome death and the grave and will help us through all of our moments of extreme grief and death.

I’ll admit that, most days, I would much rather skip over all the hard stuff. But without Good Friday, there cannot be an Easter Sunday. And without the waiting we experience in Advent, we cannot come to the manger knowing that Christ is God in human form.

But knowing that Easter joy does and will come again, I come to the manger, with my heart wide open, as I joyfully proclaim in these words from the Hallelujah chorus, “For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”

Linking up with Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart, and Kristin and Porch Stories. 

 

 

Too Much

“For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, so that the righteous might not stretch out their hands to do wrong.”–Psalm 125:3

Echoing words calling for God’s protection and peace
Yet it is lost.
We are still seeking this very thing.
So many walk around in this world
Searching to find this peace
Yet they cannot find it.

Too many
Walk around
Looking around every corner
To see if someone is lurking there
Waiting to hurt them.

Too many
Yearn to feel safe and welcomed
And beloved for who God created them to be.

Too many
Are afraid to speak up
For fear they will be harassed
Or even killed for their honesty.

Too much pain…
Too much hatred….
Too much evil….

Too much…..
Too much….

T
O
O

M
U
C
H

And because there is just too much
We need to #ShutUp